John Carmack, co-founder of id Software and more recently the Chief Technology Officer of Oculus VR had some words to say last night during Sony's GDC reveal of Project Morpheus – their prototype device meant to bring console owners to the world of virtual reality. The literal rocket scientist, John Carmack, expressed some concern for the device due to its placement on a console as apposed to an open, upgradeable platform like a PC.
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“Calibrate PS4 VR expectations: a game that ran 60 fps on PS3 could be done in VR (stereo 1080 MSAA low latency 60 fps) on PS4,” he said on Twitter.
DSO Gaming reports that Carmack's comments in relation to how stereo mode will work with a 60fps title from last generation. VR is demanding as it requires two video channels to be fed to a device, essentially creating two slightly different images for each eye. Stereo mode would effectively cut 60fps down to 30fps, reducing the smoothness and realistic movement that should be expected from virtual reality. Think of it as a slightly less fluid virtual reality.
Carmack's comments were criticized fairly quickly, accusing him of taking shots at his competition, but he stated that he wasn't and that the PS4 is a “great” platform but VR has demands that need to be acknowledged.
“That wasn’t sniping; I think PS4 is a great platform, sufficient to drive VR. People just need to understand the demands,” he wrote.
I'm sure people will claim that Carmack is taking shots, that he's scared of competition, and that Oculus is in trouble now that a technology giant is also going for virtual reality in the living room, but he makes a very valid point with his comments.
Whereas a powerful gaming computer can run games in 60fps or above based on specs, the PlayStation 4's hardware will remain stagnant. If developers begin to design games around Project Morpheus, they will have to take the hardware limitations into account and cut down on other aspects of the game's visual fidelity – or be accustomed to delivering virtual reality games at a less-than-optimal 30fps.
Regardless of who you want to see “win”, the battle for accessible and affordable virtual reality will yield amazing results. The more competition we see, the more toys we'll be given. I personally can not wait to try either device.
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